Posts filed under ‘YouTube’

On the uniqueness of humans

I’ve been watching a whole lot of videos lately and I thought I’d share some of them with you. I came across this great lecture given at Stanford by American primatologist and author, Robert Sapolsky. He talks about what makes humans unique and how other species might find us bizarre (love the example of how a giraffe might find certain human activity disturbing). Sapolsky’s talk begins at the 4.51 mark. Once you get over the hair and Biblical look, it’s a very enjoyable talk. Perhaps I missed it but he doesn’t seem to cover how imagination makes humans unique.

I wish I’d had him in my biology lectures, would have made things a whole lot more fascinating. I plan to get one of his books, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.

February 16, 2010 at 2:00 am 5 comments

How to destroy your credit card

So…Christmas is over for another year. Did you have a great time with family and friends? Did you get what you wanted from Santa? I bet one thing you might have wanted from Santa is a debt-free 2010. As we head towards New Year’s Eve, we start to think of those dreaded New Year’s Resolutions. Some people don’t bother with them because they know any resolution will be long forgotten by the end of January. Others, like me, well…we make a list and stick to it until about March or so. But this year, we can all stick to one resolution – saying goodbye, adieu, hasta la vista to your credit card. Why? Because it’s probably keeping you in debt and if you used it to finance Christmas, you’re about to face the January credit card scare.

There are two Golden Rules to being Frugalicious. The first is never spend more than you earn and the second is don’t have credit card debt. If you pay off your credit card in full every month, then stop reading this post. Otherwise, read on.

First of all, gather up your credit cards. I know this will be hard but I’ll wait. Get them out of your wallet and place them on a table. As this will be ceremonial-like, why not light some candles for atmosphere. Perhaps pop on a CD of your favourite music. Make the farewelling of your credit card an important occasion.

Now, you could do the usual thing and take a sharp pair of scissors to your credit card but let’s get more creative. Here are some ways to destroy your credit card but make sure you’re always careful: wear protective goggles, gloves, clothing and shoes.

Nuke it. Place the credit card in a microwave safe bowl and pop it into the microwave. This is a pretty satisfying method albeit a bit smelly. You might expect it to explode but it will just melt and buckle. Watch this video to see what happens.

Run over it. Wait for a sunny day to go out and mow the grass. Take the credit card from the table, carry it out on a ceremonial tray and place in the centre of your lawn. Start your lawn mower. Say a few words in memory of your credit card, then head in the direction of that shiny piece of plastic sitting innocently on the grass. As you reach it, say “consider this a divorce” and run straight over it, listening to the lawnmower blades making a mess of your credit card. See if you can find some of the pieces and dance around the remains.

Shred it or blend it. Find a shredder that shreds plastic. This is a noisy method but strangely soothing. The shredder will rip apart your credit card into tiny plastic bits in seconds. Or you can pop your credit card into a blender. The more credit cards you have, the better the blender method. Watch this video for instructions.

Blowtorch it. Only use this method if you know how use a blowtorch safely. Place the credit card in a metal vice, say a few prays for the credit card, then light the torch and watch as it melts away before your very eyes. Watch this video on how to blowtorch your plastic (along with other whacky methods).

Washing machine or dryer.  Set your credit card to the test – how many times can it make it through the washing machine or dryer cycles?

Hole punch it. Put as many holes through your credit card as you can and use the bits as confetti. As you’re punching your credit card, remember how many times your bank has punched it to you with rising credit card interest rates.

Credit card funeral. I really like this idea. Robert Crilley (retired North Carolina district court judge) presided over a funeral with a difference. Inside a miniature casket were the torn-up credit cards of 50 or so people. Gather some frugalicious friends who also want to say hasta la vista to their credit card and do the same, complete with music and a North Carolina accent. I really encourage you to watch this video of Crilley. I love it when he says:

“The deceased represents the merging of two very powerful bloodlines: the one whose motto is, ‘You know you deserve it,’ and the other, whose motto is, ‘You can have it now…..Our friend didn’t want worship. He just wanted everything that he gave you back again in one form or another — with 18% interest.”

Go camping with your credit card. Next weekend, go camping with your family. Have some quality family time by lighting a camp fire and tossing your credit card in the camp fire. Joining hands, dance around the camp fire together as the plastic burns. You might find yourself getting into a state of ecstasy.

Here are 27 more fun ways to destroy your credit card but, whatever you do, make sure you securely destroy your plastic. You need to know how to properly slice and dice it so identity theft can’t occur. Watch this video on how to securely destroy your card in 15 slices, this includes running a very strong magnet along the stripe on the back of the card (to scramble the data).

December 26, 2009 at 11:45 pm Leave a comment

Hot what?

It’s been a bit of a heavy week what with BIG government, gnomes and freaking out over water privatisation. So today, it’s a lighter post. In fact, it’s a post with some seductive stuff thrown in.

Way, way, waaaaaay back when I was growing up, I loved Bill Collins’ Golden Years of Hollywood and all the old time classic Hollywood films. Bill must be ancient now but he’s still on Foxtel. Damn, I gave Foxtel the flick recently in my attempt to be Frugalicious (note to self: must trademark this term). I would eagerly wait for Saturday night 8.30pm, hoping that Bill would show a film with Humphrey Bogart snarling his way through it; or Rita Hayworth with her gorgeous cascading, copper red hair smouldering her way through a 1940s film noir; or Tyrone Power (anyone think Zac Efron looks a bit like him?) playing an Indian doctor engaged in a sultry affair with an Englishwoman during the British Raj (The Rains Came, 1939).

Just because most of these films are from the 1930s and 1940s, don’t make the mistake of wondering whether I’m in my 70s. Tune in to Bill on Foxtel and he’s still showing The Maltese Falcon or Laura – because these are classic films that didn’t require nudity, swearing, over-the-top special effects or violence to entertain. Nope. They all relied on telling a good yarn, some pretty intense acting and a whiff of sexual innuendo.

And speaking of sexual innuendo…to today’s post. One of the films I remember most is Picnic (1955) starring William Holden and Kim Novak. Family myth has it that my father named me after Kim Novak although the counter-myth is that my grandmother named me after Rudyard Kipling’s novel, Kim. Don’t relish being named after some male-dominated novel stuffed full of the ignorance and bigotry of the British Raj. So I’m sticking with the Kim Novak story.

Have you seen the film? I used to droooooool over William Holden. But now that I look at the clip I’m about to get you to watch, I realise he was getting on a bit (probably around 37 years old in 1955, whilst Kim Novak was about 22 years old). So watch this well-known scene from the film. I reckon it’s hotter than a lot of full on sex-scenes you see these days. Okay, the first bit of dancing that William Holden does is a bit quaint (or ‘fey’ as my grandmother used to say) but once they get stuck into the dancing and the intense staring, coupled with the music…well….sultry, sexy, goose bumps. No words needed to be exchanged between these two. Actually, when I was a teen, my father used to play the theme from Picnic (which is called Moonglow) over and over: it remains a piece of music I very much like. Enjoy!

December 10, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Pigs, dogs and Big Brother

Gotta love these pigs. They are giving the finger to Big Brother, well, more their cute, wiggly tails. So we know that pets are implanted with RFID chips (usually under the skin between the shoulder blades in a dog or cat and providing the owner’s details together with information about the animal, which is logged onto a central database.) But RFID technology is also used for farm animals – to trace livestock through their life cycle. Microchip implants can identify an animal’s origin so if there is an outbreak of a disease, such as mad cow, the RFID-tracking system will identify the farm from which the animal carrying the disease came from. If you ask me, this is Animal Farm meets Big Brother. And one day, in the not too distant future, humans will be implanted with RFID chips and our daily activities and life-cycle will be tracked. But back to the pigs.

You’re about to watch a short video of smart pigs in Essex, UK. These pigs are equipped with (rather cumbersome) RFID-enabled collars that limit piggy’s food to a certain amount per day. The pig goes through a gate and the RFID collar works out how much food to dish out. You then see poor piggy looking sad that there is no more food as it leaves the feed chute area. But in a classic case of learned behaviour, some of the pigs have figured out the collar is the key to more food. And this is happening on a number of independent farms not just the one farm. Some pigs ditch the collars (yeah, they look uncomfortable) and other clever pigs come along, pick up the collar and…carry it to the feed gate a second time. So the animal that often ends up as bacon on the breakfast buffet is smart enough to make the mental connection between collar and more dinner and is teaching other pigs to subvert Big Brother.

And in another story of learned behaviour (this time without surveillance overtones) – have you heard about the Moscow dogs? Stray dogs have turned into canine commuters, using Moscow’s subway system to full advantage. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many industries moved from Moscow into the surrounding suburbs and stray dogs used the industrial complexes as shelter and for food scavenging – so when industry moved, they moved too. What’s fascinating about this is that the dogs apparently work together, helping each other to learn the length of time they need to spend on a train to the suburbs; what stop to get off; and which carriages to travel in. And just like human commuters, they often take a nap on the train. There’s even a Russian website devoted to these metro dogs. Apparently, the dogs wait patiently on the station for the train to pull in and they have learned to use the traffic lights, crossing the streets with pedestrians. And they have learned innovative tactics to easily obtain food from humans. In the evenings, they hop on the train and return to Moscow. Check out this YouTube video – you can see the dog is snoozing, the announcement is saying the train is reaching a station; the dog stirs; looks around to see people are getting off; and calmly saunters out the door, ready for a day’s scavenging.

October 24, 2009 at 2:00 am 2 comments

Social media revolution

Here’s a really interesting video on social media. I have to admit I haven’t heard of Hulu have you? Hang on….let me see….okay found it. Hulu offers commercially supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, Fox, ABC and other networks. I found one of my fav TV shows on it: Glee. But bummer: Hulu can only stream videos within the United States.

Some really powerful stats in this video, which suggests that social media is the biggest social shift since the Industrial Revolution. Here are a few tidbits:

  • social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the internet (frankly, I reckon porn is dated stuff associated with Hugh Hefner and the 1980s);
  • it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users; TV 13 years; and Facebook – less than 9 months to reach 100 million users (scary);
  • if Facebook was a country, it would be the 4th largest;
  • the fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year old females.

Fascinating stuff. Watch the video and tell me what you think.

October 20, 2009 at 2:00 am 3 comments

Economist social media video

The Economist has a rather nifty “Did You Know” video on social media. It’s US-centric but contains some interesting stats and facts for those of us into social media. Here are some interesting tidbits:

  • 2,000,000 TVs are in the bathrooms of Americans. Dudes, the bathroom is for bathing, cleaning your teeth – that sort of stuff – not for watching the latest episode of Mad Men, as tempting as this might be;
  • newspaper circulation is down 7 million in the last 25 years;
  • but in the last 5 years, unique readers of online newspapers are up 30 million.

And here’s the thing I thought was staggering – more video was uploaded to YouTube in the last two months than if ABC, NBC and CBS had been airing new content 24/7/365 since 1948 (which was the year ABC started broadcasting). Amazing.

Watch the video. Oh and if you don’t know what Rickrolling is, go here.

October 8, 2009 at 2:00 am 2 comments

How Orwellian

Looks like the European Union is up to its old tricks with surveillance but this time it is basically creating a surveillance monster called Project Indect. Heard of it? Tens of thousands of Euros are being poured into a system that will detect threats and abnormal behaviour across Europe. EU: really I can save you the trouble. Just come on over and spend some time in the organisations I work in – you’ll find plenty of abnormal behaviour to study, don’t waste a heap of Euros!

The project has a web-site and I list what it says the objectives are – then I will tell you what it really will be up to:

  • to develop a platform for: the registration and exchange of operational data, acquisition of multimedia content, intelligent processing of all information and automatic detection of threats and recognition of abnormal behaviour or violence,
  • to develop the prototype of an integrated, network-centric system supporting the operational activities of police officers, providing techniques and tools for observation of various mobile objects,
  • to develop a new type of search engine combining direct search of images and video based on watermarked contents, and the storage of metadata in the form of digital watermarks.

The main expected results of the INDECT project are:

  • to realise a trial installation of the monitoring and surveillance system in various points of city agglomeration and demonstration of the prototype of the system with 15 node stations,
  • implementation of a distributed computer system that is capable of acquisition, storage and effective sharing on demand of the data as well as intelligent processing,
  • construction of a family of prototypes of devices used for mobile object tracking,
  • construction of a search engine for fast detection of persons and documents based on watermarking technology and utilising comprehensive research on watermarking technology used for semantic search,
  • construction of agents assigned to continuous and automatic monitoring of public resources such as: web sites, discussion forums, UseNet groups, file servers, p2p networks as well as individual computer systems,
  • elaboration of Internet based intelligence gathering system, both active and passive, and demonstrating its efficiency in a measurable way.

Say what? You understand any of this twaffle? Let me translate for you:

  • secret squirrel geeky dudes will create agents to trawl and scurry around the internet, poking and snooping into web sites, discussion forums, social networks, individual computers, P2P networks;
  • it will also collect data and images from surveillance cams, CCTV
  • it will store all the juicy stuff it finds in a huge central database (probably lovingly nicknamed by the geeky types, Panopticon)
  • the juicy tidbits of information about you will be “behaviorally profiled”. Secret squirrel codes will be written to identify patterns of “abnormal behaviour” across Europe. This will include voice pitch, the way someone stands, eye movements and so on
  • all juicy tidbits of information about you (including private or sensitive) will be tagged, flagged and shared amongst European police forces (heck, give up on Project Indect – why not just create a pan-European police force?)
  • secret squirrel types (Government, police, any interested authorities) will be able to whip up a personal dossier on you in a matter of minutes. Some idiot EU politician will lovingly refer to this as “a single source of truth”.
  • Indect – they clearly misspelt INDICT – because that is what will happen to you. God knows what innocent thing you might do to glean the attention of this artificial intelligence crap system; get the knock on the door in the middle of the night; be spirited off and then indicted for some “abnormal behaviour” (or for what you might do based on profiling).
  • this is about predicting the likelihood to offend. It’s about modelling potentially criminal and anti-social behaviour and focusing on individuals BEFORE crimes are committed.
  • this is not about keeping EU citizens safe and tucked up in bed not having to worry about so-called terrorist threats. This is not about creating a more secure society.
  • this sounds more like an initiative to help police forces – something they can use to round up dissenters.

Really, my tolerance for this sort of stupidity is getting very low. If you want to know what type of society we’ll end up living in, you can turn to no-one more intelligent and insightful than Aldous Huxley. This may be an ancient, quaint TV interview (with interviewer Mike Wallace smoking and I think from 1958) and it may be talking about the US but if you ask me, it’s just as relevant today. Watch these videos, listen carefully to what he is saying. Think. Reflect. Particularly about misuse of powers. Aldous Huxley implores us not to be taken by surprise but to be eternally vigilant about our civil liberties.

October 1, 2009 at 2:00 am 1 comment

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